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Senior Projects

posted Nov 16, 2012, 5:36 PM by Dawna Green   [ updated Jan 4, 2013, 11:19 AM ]
June 2012 Spotlight
Senior Projects 

The dresses were handmade by students. 

"Students participating in a student written and directed play as part of a group senior project."

“Senioritis” - a condition where high school students lose focus on their academics with college plans in place and enticing social opportunities surrounding them - is a phenomenon common in most high schools. In 2010, MSAD #51’s School Board created a Senior Year Task Force to develop plans to combat senioritis, and engage seniors at the end of their time at Greely High School. One of the biggest successes that came out of the work of the task force was the Senior Project, a program piloted in 2011-2012 in which seniors work independently on a project of their choice. Now in its second year, participation in senior projects has almost tripled, growing from 30 students in 2010-2011 to 89 students in 2011-2012. Senior projects are a privilege for students and not a right. All participating students need to carry a full course load of five classes, and maintain an average of 70% or above in each class. Students are not able to drop a failing additional class in order to participate in senior projects.

Students interested in completing senior projects submit proposals in January, in which they outline a clear written plan of what they hope to achieve. These proposals are reviewed by a committee of parents, junior students, teachers and administrators, and are categorized in one of three ways: approved with no revisions, approved with the condition that changes be made in response to committee concerns, and rejected as unviable projects. The vast majority of proposals fall in the second category, where students are asked to go back to their proposals to provide more specific timelines, more defined goals and/or more streamlined projects. Students have the opportunity to resubmit their proposals with the requested changes. This year almost all of the re-submitted proposals were accepted.

While many students work on their projects throughout the school year, other students draw from their independent work completed in other classes earlier in the year, but all students are provided two class-free weeks in May to devote specifically to their projects. Working in consultation with a faculty advisor, and in many cases a site advisor, students spend two weeks immersing themselves in their independent work. Projects range from job shadowing professionals of interest to writing and performing plays to raising money and advocating for social causes to volunteering in local service organizations to teaching foreign languages to local students. Senior projects culminate in an afternoon of student presentations. On June 5th from 4:00 - 8:00 PM, 89 seniors involved in 41 projects, will give ten minute presentations to students, parents, teachers and community members. These talks will focus primarily on what students have learned and how they have grown from their independent work.

Greely’s Assistant Principal Mar-E Trebilcock, the administrator in charge of senior projects, has seen the positive effects of the program on students’ engagement during senior spring. Because they are so invested in their projects, students are highly motivated to maintain the 70% average in all of their classes. Parents, students, teachers and community members are encouraged to come to the celebration of senior projects on Tuesday, June 5th from 4:00 - 8:00 PM. Refreshments will be provided, thanks to the coordination of parent volunteer Jennifer McAdoo. For a full list of participating students and their projects, please visit Senior Project Presentation Schedule for June 5, 2012.